Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

Tampa enacts 6 p.m. curfew with Hurricane Irma closing in

TAMPA — Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn today enacted a citywide curfew starting at 6 p.m. after getting Tampa Electric estimates that as much as 60 percent of the city could lack electricity after Hurricane Irma strikes.

Meanwhile, St. Petersburg has enacted a 5 p.m. curfew.

"You may not have power for a number of days, if not weeks," Buckhorn said. "We know that we are ground zero for Hurricane Irma. For 90 years we have avoided this day, but I think our day has come. ... What I am concerned about the most is the storm surge."

Buckhorn and Police Chief Brian Dugan said after 6 p.m. people should be off the streets entirely.

"If you don't need to be out, don't go out," Buckhorn said. "We will be — let me underscore this — we will be very aggressive with anybody that we find looting. There is nothing worse than taking advantage of your fellow citizens at a time like this. We will not tolerate in any way, shape or form anybody we catch engaged in criminal behavior, particularly in the areas that have been hardest-hit by this hurricane."

"If you are out on the street as of 6 o'clock, we are going to challenge you and find out what you're doing out there," Dugan said. "It's very important that everyone stay inside until we give the all-clear."

The city will assess conditions as soon as officials can get police helicopters in the air after the storm and lift the curfew on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis where feasible. An estimated 72,000 people have sought refuge in Hillsborough County shelters.

"Power will be out; trees will be down," Buckhorn said. "Once this storm hits, we can get back out with our crews to help move the debris. We will start with the arterials in the hardest-hit areas to help open up the passageways so that people can get home. The curfew will remain in place until we determine that there is no risk to life from downed power lines or downed trees.

"Be cognizant, once you get back in your neighborhood of who belongs there and who doesn't," Buckhorn said. "You see somebody in your neighborhood who doesn't live there and doesn't belong there, call the Tampa Police Department, and we'll take care of the rest of it."

And officials said the curfew could stay in place in some especially hard-hit areas for several days.

Police said they have been working for three or four days to get homeless people to go to shelters, but, Buckhorn said, "not all of them choose to go."

People violating the curfew could be arrested or given a misdemeanor citation.

As the storm approaches and hits, Tampa police and fire will not be dispatched to calls for help once sustained winds hit 40 mph.

"Do not call 911 if the wind is blowing consistently beyond 40 mph, because we are not going to be able to come and help you," Buckhorn said.

Officials said people can get storm-related text alerts from the city by texting "TampaReady" to 888-777. For alerts in Spanish, text "TampaLista" to 888-777.

City officials say they prepare year-round for an emergency like this one, but Buckhorn acknowledged that Tampa, its public servants and its citizens will be put to the test.

"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face," he said, referring to a comment from former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson. "Well, we're about to get punched in the face."

Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

Comments
Forecast: Potential tropical system threatens to drench already soggy Tampa Bay area

Forecast: Potential tropical system threatens to drench already soggy Tampa Bay area

Flood warnings have been extended for the Alafia River in Lithia and the Little Manatee River at Wimauma as the National Weather Service continues to monitor a broad area of low pressure that has a building chance of developing into a tropical system...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Less than one year after historic flooding, Alafia River spills its banks again

Less than one year after historic flooding, Alafia River spills its banks again

LITHIA — Frank Rodriguez was still several hundred yards from his house Monday when he pulled his SUV to the side of the road and changed into a pair of beach shoes.Ahead of him, the way home along River Drive was submerged. He was spared a wade thro...
Published: 05/21/18
Forecasters monitoring system in Caribbean as rain persists across Tampa Bay

Forecasters monitoring system in Caribbean as rain persists across Tampa Bay

More tropical showers and thunderstorms could be headed to Tampa Bay as a low pressure system that is developing in Western Caribbean waters is expected to track up through the Gulf of Mexico, promising more rain for an already soggy region. Much lik...
Published: 05/21/18
A warm, muggy Saturday with maybe some rain this afternoon

A warm, muggy Saturday with maybe some rain this afternoon

Expect a nice day, but keep an umbrella handy, especially for later in the afternoon.The forecast from the National Weather Service in Ruskin calls for warm and muggy temperatures around the Tampa Bay area today and Sunday with daytime highs in the l...
Published: 05/19/18
Forecast: Rainy weather sticking around Tampa Bay this weekend

Forecast: Rainy weather sticking around Tampa Bay this weekend

TAMPA— The dark clouds and intermittent rain that consumed the work week won’t be taking any days off just because the weekend is here as more scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service....
Published: 05/18/18
Forecast: Warm and rainy as Tampa Bay heads into weekend

Forecast: Warm and rainy as Tampa Bay heads into weekend

As temperatures rise Thursday afternoon, so will the chance of rain across the Tampa Bay. Expect to see some heavy cloud cover and scattered showers around lunchtime, according to the National Weather Service.Thursday morning will start with relative...
Published: 05/17/18
Forecast: Blossoming thunderstorms across Tampa Bay for the foreseeable future

Forecast: Blossoming thunderstorms across Tampa Bay for the foreseeable future

ST. PETERSBURG — Scattered showers and overcast skies will continue well into next week, as a weak weather system trudging north through the Gulf of Mexico could drop around 6-9 inches of rain across inland regions of Tampa Bay.Although a large area ...
Published: 05/16/18
Forecast: Weakening system will still produce soaking rains across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Weakening system will still produce soaking rains across Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — Following a day of soaking rain from a large low-pressure area that threatened to develop into an early tropical system, there’s some relative relief for the Tampa Bay area.The widespread rain that produced up to 6-8 inches in some a...
Published: 05/15/18
Dry no more: Tampa Bay is set to get soaked this week

Dry no more: Tampa Bay is set to get soaked this week

Tampa Bay’s dryspell ended emphatically on Monday.A low-pressure system churning its way up the Gulf of Mexico doused the region with up to three inches of rain Monday, according to the National Weather Service.The potential tropical system brought s...
Published: 05/14/18
Low pressure system in gulf has

Low pressure system in gulf has "medium" chance of strengthening into tropical or subtropical system this week

ST. PETERSBURG — Clouds, showers and thunderstorms in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico could strengthen into a tropical or subtropical storm affecting Florida in the next few days, National Hurricane Center forecasters predicted Sunday.In a 3:40 p.m. ...
Published: 05/13/18
Updated: 05/14/18